Heirs, Kin, and Creditors in Renaissance Florence by Thomas Kuehn

By Thomas Kuehn

Visions of modernity leisure partially on a contrast among inherited prestige (past) and success (present). Inheritance is taken as automated, if no longer axiomatic; the recipients are passive, if thankful. This research, according to a novel resource (Florentine repudiations of inheritance), finds that inheritance was once in reality a technique, that heirs had ideas: not less than, to reject a burdensome patrimony, but additionally to move estate to others and to prevent (at occasions deceptively, if no longer fraudulently) the claims of others to parts of the property. Repudiation was once a vestige of Roman legislations that grew to become once more a workable criminal establishment with the revival of Roman legislations within the heart a while. Florentines included repudiation into their ideas of adjustment after demise, exhibiting that they weren't in basic terms passive recipients of what got here their approach. those thoughts fostered kin ambitions, together with continuity around the generations.

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Certainly, it was fraught with difficulties and ambiguities. Safeguards around the use of repudiation were erected to protect the interests of creditors of the estate, interests that were perhaps more vulnerable precisely due to statutes’ insistence on immediate passage of inheritance to direct heirs. Repudiation could not help but be met with diffidence and caution in some circles. But that is all the more reason to examine, rather than ignore, it. 61 Or was avoiding an inheritance equally a family-identifying strategy, a condition of one’s social identity?

In lieu of numbers, one powerful argument has rested on the “horror” of intestacy ascribed to the Romans. 51 The revival of Roman law in the Middle Ages created a similar renewed loathing of intestacy. Indeed, to the Roman desire not to die intestate was seemingly added a powerful impetus from the Church to use the testament to settle one’s moral and charitable 48 49 50 51 Florentine hospitals, such as Santa Maria Nuova, the Innocenti did not appear among the ranks of those repudiating an inheritance.

1961), 35–40. Franco Niccolai, La formazione del diritto successorio negli statuti comunali del territorio lombardo-tosco (Milan: Giuffr`e, 1940), 145–51. Cf. Samuel K. , “Burckhardt Revisited from Social History,” in Languages and Images of Renaissance Italy, ed. Alison Brown (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 217–34; now reprinted in The Renaissance: Italy and Abroad, ed. John Jeffries Martin (London: Routledge, 2003), 107–123. P1: KAE 9780521882347int 16 CUNY1284/Keuhn 978 0 521 88234 7 January 8, 2008 Introduction available device to achieve a useful end, as so many clever folks did in the comedic literature of the period?

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